This post is by Kelli LaFram.
At the end of 2021, after several years of toil and strife at work, at school, and in my home, I was depleted and empty. I wasn’t practicing the art of saying no at work, nor was I setting healthy, appropriate boundaries with friends and family. I wasn’t sleeping well, my mind was constantly spinning with thoughts of tasks left undone, and I wasn’t able to be present with my family. Though I was financially stable and living and working in a safe environment, my quality of life was at an all time low. I was physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually exhausted. I needed rest desperately.
In January 2022, I hopped on the one-little-word trend wagon. Instead of setting a New Year’s resolution, I pick a word that would set the intention for my year. That word: rest. While I couldn’t quit my job and nap all day, I could make choices that filled my cup rather than empty it. For me, this meant only saying yes to the things that I had to do, like going to work, doing the laundry, and preparing meals for my children, and the things that brought me joy, like paddle boarding with my kids, reading books, and working in my garden.
Let me tell you that resting was a struggle. Yes, I had to struggle to rest. When I was asked to join the Parent Teacher Association and I said no, I feared letting people down. When I was asked to babysit three days a week over the summer, I said no even though I was worried that the family would be left without daycare. When I was offered a job with a substantial salary and I declined, I questioned whether or not I was making the right decision. That said, prioritizing rest was well worth it.
Here are a few things that I learned from my year of rest. First, when and how we rest needs to be brought under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In my situation, I felt the Lord leading me into a full year of rest, but that doesn’t mean my situation is right for everyone. We should each prayerfully consider how we should be resting and when the Holy Spirit gives us guidance, we should obey to the best of our ability.
Second, rest isn’t a one-and-done kind of thing. When my year of rest came to a close, I found myself quickly slipping back into old habits of filing my calendar and accepting every request of my time and attention that came my way. Rest cannot be something we take for granted. It is a habit that we must cultivate and protect. We must decide to give as much attention to rest as we do to any other aspect in our lives or it will not happen.
The third lesson I learned in my year of rest was accountability, accountability, accountability. I shared my plan for rest with a few close friends. When they saw me making commitments or adding unnecessary items to my to-do list they would remind me of my intention to spend time resting. Without these people I believe I would have quickly given up on prioritizing resting.
The final and most important lesson came at the end of the year. While I felt mentally refreshed and physically rejuvenated, something was still missing. As I reflected on my 12 months of rest I realized that I had assumed that physical and mental rest would naturally lead to spiritual rest. I thought that if I freed up time and space in my day and in my head that I would naturally spend more time in God’s Word, in prayer, and in worship. This was not the case. I mentioned earlier that we must devote our attention to rest or it will not happen. This is especially so with spiritual rest because we live in fleshly bodies that war against the things of God.
When we think of rest we don’t initially think of struggle, but the truth is it is a struggle to rest. So much of the world and our flesh is dedicated to keeping our minds and bodies distracted so that we do not turn to Jesus for rest. I encourage you to pursue rest anyway. Rest may not come easy, but it will be worth it. Here are a few verses to meditate on as you struggle to rest:
So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Genesis 2:2-3,
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. Psalm 23:1-2,
And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27-28.
Kelli LaFram is actually Kelli LaFramboise, but no one can pronounce that, so with the permission of her family she writes under the shorter pen name. Her neighbors have started referring to her bunch as the LaFram Fam. In addition to writing for Hello Mornings, Kelli leads a Bible study in her home and serves in the children’s ministry at her local church. Kelli is an elementary school teacher and her hobbies include blogging about God’s word, listening to audiobooks with her children, and drinking good (decaf) coffee. You can find her at www.quietlyreminded.com and https://www.instagram.com/kellilafram/.
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